Oct 312015
 

Sexuality, Relationships, and Disability

A Love Letter to My Neurotypical Husband, From Your Autistic Wife

People often say marriage (or any long-term romantic relationship) is about compromise. I think it’s about understanding, showing that understanding, growing with a partner. This woman and her husband don’t – can’t – just go through the motions of a conventional romantic partnership.

Before you, I knew in my marrow that I would never be suited for a conventional love relationship. How could a woman who exists mostly in her own inner world, so tightly controlled, ever share a life with another person — until “death do us part,” no less? Every attempt I’d ever made at normal had failed miserably. I am too complicated, too particular, too cerebral.

I am much too much of everything. But you don’t seem to mind at all.

Read the whole article here.

Cocks & Bonds: That Time I Considered Hiring a Sex Worker

Deeply honest read from Andrew of Deliciously Disabled about struggling with his lack of choices for getting his sexual needs met.

If I am to look at the last several months with any sincerity, I am not okay with the way things have gone, by way of my sexual access. I have been really upset that the reality of my life as a man with disabilities; plagued by issues of location, attendant care needs and blissful ignorance or lack of awareness on the part of my community of fellow Queers, means that I have gone almost a year without an affectionately sensual touch from another man.

Within these long nine months, a time longer than many celebrity couples have lasted, I have started to consider the fact that I may have to hire a sex worker in order for my sexual needs (and at this point, it is a need much more than a want) to be met. I have been toying with this idea for some time now.

Read the whole article here.

Let’s Talk about Sex And Depression

JoEllen Notte, also known as the Redhead Bedhead wanted to know more about people’s experiences navigating their sexuality, depression diagnoses, and depression treatments. So, she ran an online survey and conducted interviews. here, she shares her findings, and shows us how sexuality can afect depression, how depression can affect sexuality, and what people can do about it.

Imagine for a moment that I took away your ability to enjoy sex. It’s just gone. Now in order to get it back, you would have to declare that you belong to two categories of people who are regularly stigmatized in pop culture. While you are dealing with this, you may also be experiencing feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, lethargy, anxiety, and the inability to concentrate. If you can get past all that and reach out for help, there’s a big chance no one will do anything. They may not even believe you.

Welcome to the world of a woman dealing with the sexual side effects of depression and its treatment.

Read the whole article here.

Focus on autism must broaden to include non-binary genders

The gender binary, thinking of men and women as opposites, can be even more harmful when it comes to autistic people. I especially appreciate The point Emily Brooks makes here about how autistic people can be especially subject to gender role expectations; these expectations can be reinforced, sometimes literally over and over again through life skills (things you need to do to take care of yourself on a daily basis) and social skills training.

As a non-binary queer person, I’m sad that both the LGBTQ and the autism communities don’t offer more inclusive programming. … ’ The pointed focus on the differences between men and women with autism — most of which are socially created — leaves out people like me, who don’t adhere to a binary gender identity. … Queer environments don’t often account for our sensory processing issues or social differences, whereas autism services don’t often recognize that we may identify beyond the gender binary or have queer relationships. Shifting the focus from the tired narratives of delayed diagnosis and sex differences can help the autism community take responsibility for improving our day-to-day quality of life, whatever our age at diagnosis or gender identity.

Read the whole article here.

Disability, sex and relationships: the disabled lesbian scene

Advice and encouragement for a young woman with MS looking for disability-friendly places to meet and date other women in London England.

Read the whole article here.

Respect Sexual Rights of Women with Disabilities

calls for overhauling the nurse training system in Zimbabwe to better educate healthcare providers about the needs and experiences of their disabled patients. Lack of awareness, physically inaccessible clinics, and outright refusal to provide needed treatment all mean that disabled people often don’t get the healthcare, or treatment for illness or injuries from abuse, that they need.

In Zimbabwe, women and girls make the largest number of people who are marginalised and abused in society. The situation becomes a double tragedy when
that women or girl is living with disability, of which girls and women living with disabilities.

Persons living with disabilities – those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers,
may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others – have the same sexual and reproductive health needs as other
people. Yet, they are abused and often face barriers to information and services. Further, the ignorance and attitudes of society and individuals, including
health-care providers, raise most of these barriers – not the disabilities themselves, a fact supported by the National Survey on Disability: Key Findings
Report (2013).

Read the whole article here.

Experiences at Queer Continuum 2015

The questions and discussion with the audience went even better. There was a lot of participation, all of which was positive. A majority of the conversation
focused on the medical and health aspect of sex and disability. There were a lot of helpful questions and comments about how to talk to doctors about sex
related topics, and some of the advice came from medical professionals themselves. The audience was also very helpful in sharing their experiences and
opinions on dating a disabled person vs. just a sexual experience.

Read the whole article here.

Sex and sexuality advice

I’m a Gay Guy, but There’s This Girl….

The good folks at Scarleteen have hit the nail on the head again with some super on-target advice and reassurance about identity and sexual orientation. I love the message here that we’re all always okay, even if we don’t always know who we are or what we want. Scarleteen also doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that figuring out what we want, and negotiating relationships with other people, is hard stuff.

If you do decide that you’re bi or pan or something other than gay? That doesn’t invalidate the conclusion your eleven-year-old self came to. It’s a cliche in the sex ed world to say that sexuality is fluid, but we keep repeating it for the simple reason that, for so many people it is fluid. Eleven-year-old you chose an identity based on the information you had at the time. Your friend is providing the you of now with some new data to add to the equation. If you re-evaluate and decide “nope, still gay?” That’s as okay as deciding you’re something else. There is no right answer here.

Read the whole article here.

9 Sex-Life-Changing Tips From “Girl Sex 101”

Girl Sex 101 (available in paperback and Kindle) is full of sex, sexuality, and relationship info. Autostraddle has boiled it down to 9 key points.

My favourites:

  • “No one is going to read your mind.”
  • “Define your own boundaries.”
  • “You are allowed to want things.”

Read the whole article here.

Disability & Equality

#JustActNormally – A Response to Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s #JustSayHi Campaign

Emily Ladau explains, with simple words and lots of feeling, just exactly why The “Just Say Hi” campaign isn’t going to help disabled people.

“Just Say Hi” implies that if you see someone who appears to have a disability, you should go up to them and say hello. Although this is trying to convey that you should treat disabled people as you would non-disabled people, the opposite message comes through. No one’s ever created a “Just Say Hi to Every Single Person You See” campaign. So, isn’t the whole point of the campaign contradicted by the fact that it exists in the first place?
Also, consider this: if you swapped out disability for any other appearance-related identifier, how would this campaign go over? #JustSayHi to Asian people. #JustSayHi to people with red hair. #JustSayHi to people who look like they weigh more than you do.

Read the whole article here

“What’s wrong with you?” – a critique of the Medical Model of Disability

Here’s an approachable, conversational essay on different ways to look at the experience of being disabled. I particularly like how clearly the author reframes “What’s wrong with you?” (a judgment) into “Why are you in a wheelchair?” (something much more direct). People are afraid to use disability words like wheelchair, blind, etc. They tend more often to ask why someone is “like that,” or, yes, what’s “wrong” with them. The downside of being so easy to understand, is that this author skips over many of the problems with the social model, which doesn’t, at least the way it was originally developed, include everyone. This post icludes a few of the reasons why. https://enabledisability.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/beyond-the-social-model-of-disability/

The medical and social models are at opposite ends of the spectrum of models, ideas, and experiences researchers and activists have explored to try to understand the role of disability in people’s livs> Lern more about other disability models here.

“What’s wrong with you?”

I get asked this question most days, occasionally prefaced with a “if you don’t mind me asking…” or a “no offense, but…”

More often than not, the asker of this question truly means no harm, and would probably be horrified to know the damage caused by their words. People are naturally curious, and etiquette and rudeness aside (it’s not very polite to demand personal information from a stranger) I am always willing to enlighten those who ask. *

However, I do take issue with that question. Not in what it seeks to ask, but the specific choice of words. “What is wrong with you?” To my mind, I’m afraid there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with me. In fact, as you’re asking, I happen to have really quite a nice life. I have loving parents, wonderful friends; I am well educated and well fed. I am proud of what I have achieved so far in life and am very excited about the future. There’s nothing at all wrong with me.

I may direct you to ask another question. “Why do you use a wheelchair?” The answer to that would be because I was born with a disability called Central Core Myopathy, which means I have very weak skeletal muscles and therefore cannot walk. That was a very different question, and probably the one you were intending to ask.

Read the whole article here.

Sep 302015
 

September brought us news and views on the state of sex ed in the United states (not good), disabled women’s access to sexual health care (also not great), the complex mathematical calculations that go into whether and how to reveal a disability in an online dating profile, and more.

Here on Ready Sexy, Able, we unpacked just how ableist nine words tweeted by a celebrity can be, and how a support worker gave all the excuses in the book for why he sexually abused his clients for more than a decade.

More of what this month had to offer:

Relationships and Disability

The ‘About Me’ As a Blind Gay Man

I’m Queer and Disabled and Getting Legally Married to my Spouse Has Made My Life Harder, Not Easier

3 Common Dating Fears at the Intersection of Sexuality and Disability

sexuality and Sexual Health

‘Wheelchair Barbie’ Goes to the Gynecologist

Sexual Health Videos from WomanCare Global

The Dirty Little Secret of Therapy (hint: most therapists don’t know nearly as much about sexuality as we think they do.)

Attitudes outweigh hormones in preserving sexual desire

Sexual aBuse and Disability

Disability and rape on the hospital ward

Disability Rights

Explaining Inspiration Porn to Non-Disabled People

What Was the Telethon?

microaggressions, macroaggressions and disability

I Am What I Am But He Isn’t

Why I Want You to Stare at Me as a Man With Disabilities

Sex Education

If we teach that sex is shameful without teaching consent – how will sexually abused children ever come forward?

What schools are teaching teens about sex will horrify you

5 Terms Every Parent Should Add to Their Sex-Ed Vocabulary. (Language that is useful for all adults, especially points three and four.)

Sep 022015
 

Update

Craig Handasyde has been sentenced to twelve months in jail followed by a 2 year “community corrections” order for abusing men over a 14 year period and keeping that a secret for another two years.

The judge had this to say about the nature of the sentence: “Every attendance {for supervision and mental health treatment} will serve as a reminder of the inappropriateness of your behaviour,”

When will we move past using words like “inappropriate” to talk about sex crimes? It’s more than inappropriate to, say, punch or steal from someone – it’s illegal. Unwanted and unconsented sexual contact must also be recognized as illegal, not reduced to being morally inappropriate.

The judge also cited handasyde’s deep remorse and guilt as part of the reason for the short sentence. These are feelings – moral consequences if you will – not legal or social.

Legally, this case is over, but the victims won’t forget. Their families won’t forget.

We shouldn’t forget either.

***

A support worker for people with disabilities recently plead guilty to sexually abusing some of his clients.

There’s so much wrong here that I don’t even know where to start.

We’re told that Craig Handasyde is a religious man, that he has eight children, that thirteen people (including two ministers) stepped up to give him a character reference.

We’re told that he voluntarily resigned from his job, and, later, turned himself in to the police.

Does anyone stop to question the time lapse between the last time he claims to have abused someone (2011) and when he resigned from his job (2013)?

Does anyone stop to remember that the abuse he’s admitted to and now claims to want to make amends for spanned thirteen years? (That’s more than a decade, half a generation.)

Do any of his esteemed thirteen references (one for each of the years he violated his clients’ trust?) stop to ask themselves how they could have so deeply misjudged this man?

We’re told by his lawyer that “What emerges is a picture of a man who is extremely passive and lacks the ability to assert himself.”

Let’s look at some other facts:

  • He admits to ignoring the efforts of one of his victims to push him away.
  • He invested time and energy in extra training and certifications, thereby winning the trust of his clients’ families and his employers. This means less supervision, more of a chance to do what he wanted, when he wanted.
  • Being an abuser is about control, and has jack all to do with sexual orientation or attraction. Translation: He didn’t do this because he’s gay.

Craig Handasyde is an abuser. He worked in a position that gave him power over others. He worked with some of the most marginlized and invalidated people. Maybe he felt as if he couldn’t assert himself, but he definitely didn’t act like it.

The claims Handasyde’s lawyer is making on his behalf don’t come anywhere near justifying his behaviour. After all, Where was the conscience that made him turn himself in when someone was pushing him away, telling him, more clearly than words ever could, to leave him alone?

We’re supposed to see a man who was in incredible psychological pain.

He may have been, but the hard truth is that this man sexually abused his clients because he wanted to, because he had no care or consideration for his work responsibilities or the emotional well-being of his clients, because he thought he could get away with it.

This man gets to be as religious as he wants, as gay as he is. He doesn’t, in my opinion, get to use these as explanations for abusing anyone, disabled or not, especially not anyone he was supposed to be protecting.

It’s frustrating, too, since this case just reinforces the beliefs that gay people aren’t safe to be around. The headline on one story about Handasyde’s crimes tells us that he spent years “hiding his homosexuality behind victims who could not communicate.” Again, one thing has nothing to do with the other. He didn’t sexually abuse his clients because he was gay, though he may have justified it to himself that way.

Handasyde’s lawyer is calling what he did a “secret life.” A secret life is having an affair, visiting sex clubs, doing stuff that isn’t criminal but that you’re still afraid to tell people about.

Describing a crime as a secret life lends it an air of mystery and eroticism it doesn’t deserve.

I don’t care how contrite Handasyde is now. He was not contrite for thirteen years. This was not a crime of passion, or lack of control. This was a crime of intention.

It’s also truly sad that his victims are portrayed as people who can’t communicate.

One of them did, by pushing Handasyde away. Another had a noticeable personality change, becoming more aggressive. Another victim’s mother describes him as not having a “happy nature” anymore.

Imagine not being able to tell someone how unhappy you are. Imagine not being able to tell them that someone is touching your body and doing other things you don’t like or want. Imagine trying to tell, and having peple not understand.

There are no easy answers, especially since most of the tools used for getting information from people who don’t communicate verbally are visual, and most of the victims in this case are blind.

I don’t know what could have been done to help these men be safe from their abuser, but it’s worth pointing out that in those entire thirteen years, no one ever suspected Craig Handasyde of doing anything wrong, or, if there were suspicions, no one ever acted on them.

There was never a formal investigation.

Will the judge who passes his sentence see through all these excuses?

Further Reading

Protecting Vulnerability

Self-Advocacy

Resources for Self-Advocates

What Is Sexual Assault?

Invisible victims: Sexual assault of people with an intellectual disability

Sexual assault and adults with a disability: Enabling recognition, disclosure and a just response